Show Business Diversity Trailing U.S. Demographics, UCLA Report Shows

Show Business Diversity Trailing U.S. Demographics,

Minorities and women are falling far short in making inroads into influential Hollywood positions compared with the actual demographics of the U.S. population, a new UCLA study shows.

“This disconnect does not bode well for future of the Hollywood industry,” said Darnell Hunt, directors of UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African-American Studies. “Women already constitute slightly more than half of the U.S. population and more than a third of the population is currently minority and the population continues to diversify at a dizzying rate.”

The percentages of female and minority actors, writers, directors and producers in films and TV ranges from less than 10% to 50% of their actual population percentage, according to the study.

“The report paints a picture of an industry that is woefully out of touch with an emerging America, an America that’s becoming more diverse by the day,” Hunt said.

The study, dubbed “The 2014 Hollywood Diversity Report: Making Sense of the Disconnect,” also asserts that movies with relatively diverse casts generate above average performance at the box office and that TV shows reflecting U.S. diversity excell in ratings.

“Hollywood does pretty well financially right now, but it could do a lot better if it were better reflecting the diversity of America,” said Hunt.

The UCLA analysis was based on the top 172 American-made movies from 2011 and more than 1,000 TV airing on 68 cable and broadcast networks during the 2011–12 season. The center — which has been performing similar studies for the Writers Guild of America for the past decade — said that Wednesday’s report is part of a series of analyses it will perform to track diversity in the TV-film industry along with identifying best practices for widening the pipeline for underrepresented groups.

Among the findings:

— Minority lead actors in film and TV were underrepresented by a factor of more than three-to-one — less than one-third the rate that would be expected based on their proportion of the population. In broadcast TV comedies and dramas, they were underrepresented by a factor of seven-to-one.

— Minority film directors were underrepresented by a factor of three-to-one; film writers and creators of comedies and dramas on cable TV, were underrepresented by a factor of five-to-one; in broadcast TV, minority creators of comedies and dramas were underrepresented by a factor of nine-to-one.

— Women achieved proportionate representation in broadcast TV, where they appeared as leading actors in 52% of comedies and dramas in 2011–12. But they were underrepresented by a factor of 12-to-one as film directors and by a factor of three-to-one in film writing.

The study also blasted the three top talent agencies — CAA, WME and UTA — as contributing little to promoting diversity as they represented more than two-thirds of the writers, directors and lead actors in the 172 leading films in 2011, with less than 10% of that talent being minority.

In broadcast TV, the three agencies represented more than two-thirds of show creators and more than half of the leads, and minorities accounted for only 1.4% of these creators and 5.5% of these leads during the 2011–12 broadcast season.

The report also noted that no minority-directed film from 2011 won an Oscar and no film with a minority lead actor won an Oscar; only 5% of Emmy-winning comedies and dramas on broadcast TV in 2011-12 were minority-created with “Grey’s Anatomy” accounting for that entire share.

“Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes, who was honored for her diversity efforts with a Betsy Beers last month by the Directors Guild of America, said in her acceptance speech, “It’s fairly shameful that there’s a lack of diversity in Hollywood in 2014.”

The report asserted that films with a relatively high amount of minority involvement (21% to 30%)  achieved the highest median global box office receipts at $160.1 million while films with less than 10% percent achieved a median of $68.5 million.

“The situation is better than it was in the 1950s, but Hollywood is falling further and further behind,” Hunt said. “America is infinitely more diverse than it was. So the gap has gotten bigger between where America is going and where the industry is going.”

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  1. The bottom line is, we have seen enough movies with a white male lead. It’s getting old. Now, there is nothing wrong with a white male lead, I just don’t want that to be the only thing that I see. I also think that hollywood needs to get the message that it’s okay to put more than one minority in a movie or show. Look at Grey’s Anatomy. It’s not all white with 1 black person thrown in, the cast is diverse. You have white doctors, black doctors, and asian doctors, all in leading roles and the show is doing just fine.

    • Rebeccah says:

      I agree, Grey’s Anatomy is a great example – it felt really refreshing when it premiered, as it seemed really modern for a change.

  2. J. Smothers says:

    H, Klein if people thought the way you do our world would still be operating in a world of segregation as if time had never advanced.

    First, attacking the study as flawed as if you have analyzed their methodology is lazy on your part. Let’s see more of a counter breakdown of their numbers if you disagree. Simply attacking it because you say it is no good, as if we should believe your credentials on your word is useless.

    The “human nature” excuse is not a good one to use. It could be argued that segregation was human nature. That racism is human nature. That sexism is human nature. Should we accept them because they are “human nature.”

    The sports comparison is also useless. The sports field generally is about putting the best person against the best person. In a sprint for example, the clock doesn’t judge. Either you win or lose. In basketball either you can beat me or you can’t. Casting involves subjective decisions. Surely you know that. Maybe you are pretending to not know the difference.

    Try again. Sounds like you just don’t want to admit certain realities. I am not saying racism is necessarily the problem. But to deny there is a problem is chosen blindness.

    • H. Klein says:

      Clearly the bias, as it always is, lies in the phrasing of the question and the predisposition of the
      study group. I call on you to read the works of Nassim Taleb, the scholar who points out the
      existence of the Procrustean Bed, that is, cutting the results to fit the predisposition of those proposing
      the information’s accuracy. Clearly this study’s erroneous assumptions made the study flawed.
      Human nature by far rules more expressions of human behavior than anything learned. Not to accept
      it for what it is, means you live in a fake world of idealistic constructs not the real world where the
      rest of us have to accept it for what it is. You can’t use racism or sexism in the past tense because
      it remains part of what makes us who we are to a greater or lesser extent and nothing ever,
      will change that. Look at hispanic soap operas. Note the ethnicity of the actors. They are
      dominantly Causasian hispanics.
      Your dispute with the sports analogy is pure can’t, again plucking illogic to suit your own predilections.
      Your objection to the sports analogy is wrong because this study implies that the best actors, if
      they are minorities don’t get past the casting office. Are you willing to accept that there are tons of
      white athletes who may be passed over and not given a chance because experience has proven
      black players pan out better over a large universe? I don’t. I think that pro sports leagues do their
      recruiting where their bread and butter comes from and that is largely among geographic
      areas that produce the best athletes. That’s why major league baseball teams run big programs
      in places like the Dominican Republic not Beverly Hills.
      The only problem that exists is in the mind of confused idealists who refuse to recognize
      reality even if it hits them squarely in the face. Do a mind experiment Watch tv for a straight
      week. Clock every commercial you see and break it down thus:
      1. Who is the character that is most portrayed as a clueless doofus needing to be educated
      about the crapola being sold. Bet you a ton its a white male.
      2. Who is portrayed as the big boss around a conference table of executives while the
      rest of the toadies are a cross sections of diverse people? A huge number of African Americans.
      3. Who are the neighbors lecturing their dumb neighbors about the great values in the products
      and who are the dopes who never heard of this widget or that? And look at the depiction of
      African American couples in commercials. Almost invariably, the female partner of the couple is
      played by an African American woman of a decidedly lighter skin color than the male partner.
      Its true 9 out of 10 times. Why? Because there is a subtext among some viewers, that marrying
      “lighter” is a good thing. That;s an insult to black women.
      4. Count the number of depictions in tv and the movies where the judges, doctors, lawyers,
      professors and savvy tech folks are depicted as being African American and then reinsert yourself
      in the real world and see how that works.
      5. And look at the beer commercials on sports shows. The same old cast of characters,
      bunches of young people cheering and screaming around sports bars representing a rainbow
      of diversity. Now compare that to 95% of all the real sports bars and see howt”diverse”
      their clientele is on game days. Again the delusional casting people who see their jobs as
      doing god’s work, feeling good and going home to their lilly white suburbs at night and driving
      their kids to their almost lilly-white schools the next day.
      True diversity should be measured by talent and its ability to earn money–not color or ethnicity.
      What you will see is an incessant pandering to the same misguided “diversity” imperatives
      casting offices and some advertisers bow down to. Another reality is this: African Americans
      according to hard statistics, watch roughly twice a much TV as whites. Why?
      Its something called human nature.

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